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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

US Officials say Chinese Supplies to Iran Challenge UN Sanctions

12 July 2007

A U.S. official says China is failing to do all it should to stop militarily significant supplies from reaching Iran, even though it voted for U.N. sanctions aimed at preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

Ambassador Don Mahley is deputy assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation. He told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a congressional advisory body, that Chinese companies sold items to Iran that the United States considers banned under U.N. resolutions aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

"There have been transfers, which we have addressed with the Chinese, in which we believe that the transfers were not permitted by U.N. Security Council resolutions 1737 and 1747," he said.

Mahley said Beijing does not dispute that the transfers occurred, but differs with Washington about whether the transfers violate the U.N. resolutions. He refused to publicly name specific equipment or technology, but he said they were "involved" with Iran's missile and nuclear programs.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney testified that the Chinese government has taken what he called a legalistic approach to the U.N. resolutions, which do not call for a blanket ban on such transfers to Iran.

"Very clearly, the transfers that Ambassador Mahley's talking about are things that are not consistent with the spirit of those U.N. resolutions and the purpose and intent of them," he said.

Sedney also questioned Chinese sales of conventional arms to Iran.

"Supplying conventional weapons to Iran, at a time when Iran is supplying and funding groups in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan, that are confronting and sometimes killing American troops and our allies, that is not the activities that I would expect of a strategic or of a cooperative partner," he said.

Sedney also highlighted U.S. concerns that Beijing is allowing transfers of what he described as a wide variety of dual-use and conventional technologies to countries like Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

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